would almost certainly have applauded a development on the stage which she and her council had
been trying to impose on uncooperative subjects throughout her reign.
Like the court of aldermen in the case of the unlucky merchant tailor, she would have felt, the un-
generous courtiers were trying to enforce the so-called sumptuary regulations. With regard totheir
extreme method, Queen Elizabeth would have found that necessary by 1597 as well. We read in a
royal proclamation dealing with the enforcing of the Statutes of 24 Henry VIII, c. 13(1532-3) and
1&2 Ph&M, c. 2 (1554) 27and "sundry former proclamations"28for the reformation of excess in
apparel of July 6 of that same year (1597), that "her majesty, finding by experience that by
clemency (wherunto she is most inclinable so long as there is any hope of redress) this increasing
evil hath not been cured, hath thought fit to seek to remedy the same by correction and severity to
be used against both ....those in authority under her who are negligent in the execution"29of the
statutes and those who show "manifest contempt and disobedience"30in violating her laws. Yet,
though what was to be Queen Elizabeth's last royal proclamation on the subject (other than a piece
exempting certain persons from the statutes dated a few weeks later:31)asserts that so far "no re-
formation at all hath followed"32in spite of her sundry and varied attempts at securing compliance
in the past, we should not conclude that the Queen is here acknowledging the overall inefficacy of
her endeavors to have the sumptuary laws observed. The context establishes, the lamented non-
compliance with such prudent and wholesome laws, (almost a formula to be found in the pream-
bles of a great many statutes and proclamations intended to reaffirm old laws 33) applies only to
the failure to date to reform abuses due to the "negligence ... [of] those in authority under her to
see her laws provided in that behalf duly executed ...and the manifest contempt and disobedience
of the parties offending."34
Nevertheless, our sanguine expectations, along with those voiced by Navarre and his three
courtiers at the end of Act IV ofLove's Labor's Lostare disappointed. For, as Berowne ob-
serves rather plaintively in Act V, "Our wooing doth not end like an old play; / Jack hath not Jill.
These ladies' courtesy / Might well have made our sport a comedy."35Navarre's optimistic rejoin-
der, "Come, sir, it wants a twelvemonth and a day, / And then 'twill end"36
does persuade neither
27Statutes of the Realm, III, 430-2; IV(1),239
28(Hughes & Larkin No.464[II.136-8];Nos.493-6[II,187-203]; No. 542[II,278-83]; No. 601[II, 381-6]; No.
623II,417]; No. 646[II,454-62]No. 697[III,3-8]
29H.&L., No. 786[III,174-9].
32Ibid, p. 175.
33G. Elton's cis undoubtedly correct when arguing that "Sixteenth-century legislation must ever be regarded as
evidence of intentions rather than as a policy rigidly carried out, ..."; see England under the Tudors,p.244.
email@example.com: CRC 98 Paper8January, 1998